Tag Archives: I’ve Learned

The Smartest 15 Ways to Deal With Difficult People

Anyone who has spent some time working in a customer service field knows just how quickly things can turn ugly. Learning to deal with difficult people it a valuable life lesson learned.

Usually, it starts simply. Something might not have been ready on time. The product purchased might have failed. It might just be a bad day for the customer.

Bosses and managers may be poor leaders, or maybe a family member or spouse might become enraged.

Is there anything you can do to stop a bad situation from spiraling out of control? Of course there is. Here are 15 steps you can take to deal with difficult people.

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post also contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission or referral fee, at no extra cost for you.

 

15 Solutions to Deal With Difficult People

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

1. Keep a Level Head

One of the funniest things in Douglas Adam’s, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was that on the front the of the guide in huge letters were the words, “Don’t Panic.”

In the book, these words are ironic, especially in the beginning of the book when Arthur Dent is about to be flushed out an airlock into space.

But, there is value in these words when you have to deal with difficult people.

Stop for a second to take a deep breath. Take another one if you need to. Then make a conscious effort to remain calm.

This is the foundation of diffusing a tense situation.

When disciplining children, parents are often advised to count to 10 before doing or saying anything. That’s sound advice for any difficult situation.

2. Open Your Ears

The next best thing to do to deal with difficult people is to try to discern what they are upset about. It may be a challenge not to jump into fix-it mode, but it’s better to figure out exactly what the problem is before you try to fix it.

Each individual needs to feel like someone hears them. Acknowledge how they feel and give them validation by listening to what is bothering them. Give them ample opportunity to fully explain their issue without interrupting them.

Pay attention to what they say. Your mind will be tempted to start formulating what you should say next. It’s better to concentrate fully on what the other person is saying and then try to think of a solution.

3. Apologize

In most cases, you won’t have done anything wrong. That’s not the point right now.

Start by saying, “I’m sorry.” Those two small words can often go a long way to calming someone down.

Tell them that you intend to try to remedy the situation. Now that they feel like you have heard them and that you want to help, cooler heads should prevail.

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

4. Go With Your Gut

Not all situations can be defused. If your fight-or-flight reflex starts to kick in, do what you must to guarantee your safety. Determine the best method of leaving the immediate area.

For many years, I worked in management. It was an area that I both loved and hated. Hiring and training employees was usually great. Correctly or terminating them was another matter entirely.

One man specifically sticks out in my mind. Before we met with him, upper management had met to determine the best way to handle his dismissal. We knew his personality type and that the situation could escalate quickly.

Unfortunately, we were not wrong. In fact, things got so bad so fast that I had no choice but to call the police. To this day I believe that if I hadn’t, someone would have been harmed.

Protect yourself first and foremost, and flee if you have to.

5. Establish a Boundary

It’s not an entirely accurate statement to say, “the customer is always right.” Every business does what it can to provide the highest customer satisfaction, but there are things you shouldn’t put up with in the process.

“Adult language” is very common today. Many people use it without thinking about it. However, when those words start to come out as a barrage against you, it’s okay to draw a line in the sand.

In my last position, I handled all serious customer complaints. Many times a customer would have gone through one or two employees before I was given the problem to handle.

Understandably, customers were often irate at that point. Even so, I made sure to set a standard early in my conversation.


I was impervious to a few “adult” words flying my way, but when the narrative became vicious or the words especially derogative, I would give people a choice.

“Please do not speak that way,” I would tell them. If it was a telephone call, I would warn them three times that failing to calm down would force me to end the call. If the call didn’t improve, I hung up, sometimes several times on the same person.

In a family, it’s not uncommon to completely let your guard down. Sadly, that sometimes means that you might say something to your spouse or children that you would never say to anyone else.

There’s no reason you can’t establish boundaries in the family. Tell your family member that you will have to end the conversation until they can talk in a calmer manner.

6. Be Respectful and Polite

When trying to deal with difficult people, you may be lambasted with a tirade of hurtful words. Even though you may be smarting from the sting of the words, do your best not to respond in kind.

If you let your feelings turn to anger and your words to weapons, the matter will only get worse.

Strive to do your best to use respectful words like sir, ma’am, please and thank you. It may require some strenuous effort, but by remaining calm and respectful, you may just guilt the other person into acting better.

How To Be The Good You Want to See

7. Validate Their Feelings

Even if you do not understand, it’s usually good to say that you do. Or, if it’s obvious that you don’t understand, say something like, “Please tell me more so I can better understand.”

Showing them that what they are saying matters to you will give them some validation. If you show that you are sincerely interested in fixing the problem, the other person will feel more like they are on common ground with you. The need to be difficult should improve.

8. Seek Help if Needed

One thing that often made me livid was when a man would rant to one of my female employees and treat them like nothing, but completely change when I or another male member of management appeared. This well illustrates how another person can often change the conversation dynamic.

Be alert to get help if you need to.

With my employees, we had innocuous words that could be used in a sentence or quickly sent by text message that alerted the other staff that someone needed help. When we heard that word, one or more of us would go to stand with the colleague in need.

An angry individual may have no problem with yelling at one person but may take a step back when a second person appears.

In a work environment, try to flag the eye of a fellow employee or reasonable manager if needed.

There’s often safety in numbers, so don’t hesitate to seek help when you must deal with difficult people.

9. Try Not To Be Defensive

A difficult person may do their best to make you believe that it is your fault that they are so upset. Your natural tendency might be to jump to your own defense.

Frequently, it’s best to let yourself be wronged. Keep your voice steady and at a low, normal volume so as to portray the sense that you are not riled.

Yes, very likely you will be riled. In fact, you might be hopping mad. But this probably isn’t the right time to release the pressure valve.

Keep in mind, at this specific moment, it’s not your feelings that are most important. If you can calm the situation, then later you can rationally discuss the points that you know were unfair or untrue.

Words Do Real Damage – 3 Questions to Ask Before Speaking

10. Control Anger and Body Language

Again, when you deal with difficult people, it’s perfectly natural to feel angry. Do your best to control that anger.

In addition, purposely control your body language.

Pointing a finger at them or crossing your arms may add fuel to the fire. A pointed finger can be taken as a challenge or aggression. Crossed arms may signal that you have closed yourself off to helping the problem customer.

Hold your hands in front of you or let them hang loosely at your sides. Gesture if needed in the conversation, but make sure any gestures are not aggressive or accusatory.

11. Stay Versatile

Just as no two people are exactly alike, no two situations are either. Look for clues as to what the person feels would be the right solution.

In the retail world, customers are often looking for a refund or replacement of a product. However, some unscrupulous individuals may be looking for a business to claim liability or give them just cause to file a lawsuit.

Again, go with your gut in this area. Quite often, the less-is-more approach is the way to go. Say as little as possible until you have some idea what solution they might be looking to achieve.

12. Discern What’s Not Being Said

Many psychologists will tell you that anger is always a secondary emotion. What that means is that often there is another emotion that triggered the anger. This is frequently true when you have to deal with difficult people.

In a marriage, this is often hurt feelings. The verbal barrage you are getting right now may have nothing to do with the subject that is being discussed.

What?

Bear with me a moment.

Imagine for a moment that a wife explodes because a husband is late coming home for dinner or that he forgot to carry the trash to the curb. Is that really what she’s upset about? Or is this something else that hurt her prior to this?

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

Personal experience time.

My wife and I, believe it or not, rarely fought. However, one afternoon, and completely out of the blue, she yelled at me, and not just a little bit either.

Now, I know you didn’t know my wife, but she was never a yeller. That was always my job if yelling needed to be done.

I don’t remember the exact words she yelled at me. It seems like it had something to do with leaving a dish on the counter or in the sink.

What I do clearly remember is that it had nothing to do with why she was really upset. It turned out, a few nights earlier I had said something insensitive and hurtful when we were out to dinner with friends.

The comment had meant nothing to me at the time and quickly left my mind, but my dear wife had let it fester in her mind for days until some small thing I had done was enough to break the proverbial camel’s back.

See if you can determine what is really bothering the individual you are having to deal with. Again, this is where active listening comes into play.

13. Don’t Be Demanding

Continue to fight natural impulses if you want to be truly successful. As a situation deteriorates, you may be inclined to say things like, “Shut up!” or “Calm down already.”

Hello, match meet flame. Not good.

Instead, inquire more about what is bothering them. Do they feel like they have been mistreated? Have they been offended in some way?

We all have the need to vent from time to time. Usually, once we are done venting, we no longer feel as upset as we were.

If it feels like a safe option, give the other person a safe space to vent a little.

14. Maintain Personal Space

If emotions are already frayed, it may not take much to make matters worse. Natural impulses may move you to want to touch their arm or shoulder to calm them down. This well-intentioned, empathetic action can be perceived as aggression.

Going back for a moment to the man I had to help fire, shortly before I had to call the police, the business owner made a crucial mistake.

Incorrectly imagining that he could do something to calm the irate employee, my boss reached out and touched his arm.

To say things exploded from there is probably an understatement. In fact, it was like someone flipped a switch and the man being fired lost all control as to his speech or actions. He screamed and flailed his arms and even rolled around on the floor a couple times. It was unbelievable.

So, when you need to deal with difficult people, give them plenty of personal space.


15. Recognize That the Person and Problem Are Different

As you learn to deal with difficult people, it’s important to remind yourself that the person and the problem are not the same.

Some of the worst customers I had to deal with over the years pointed out serious flaws in the business I worked for or the staff that needed to be corrected.

Even though the person you are facing might be acting impossible, the thing they are upset about may be a legitimate problem that needs to be addressed. Look at the situation objectively regardless of how the person is acting.

Strive To Be Better

No doubt, some of the methods in this article to deal with difficult people might be unnatural the first time or two you try to put them into practice. Don’t let that stop you. Just because something feels comfortable doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be done.

The fired employee that was clearly very comfortable with screaming and cussing was certainly in the wrong. However, those were things that he seemed to be perfectly comfortable with.

Give yourself time to improve and keep working on it even if your first few attempts are far from successful. Changing the world takes one person at the time and constant effort, so be sure to keep going.

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Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

 

Why You Should Drop Back And Punt

Lesson 15: I’ve Learned that sometimes you sprint for the goal line, and sometimes you fall back and punt.

If you know me at all, you are probably a little surprised that this I’ve Learned installment is starting with a sports metaphor. It’s not that I don’t like sports. Watching football with a group of friends is always a blast.

When I am at home alone, though, sports seldom get much airtime. It’s not that I don’t enjoy watching the games. Instead, I think the game loses some of the thrill without an audience to share it with.

But this is not a post about sports.

No, I’ve come to a realization this month. Lately, it seems like I am having them all the time.

 

Why you should sometimes drop back and punt.

April Was Dismal

To be honest, I’ve been a little depressed most of the month. It takes a lot to get me down, but seeing my low blog numbers for April as I passed my six month anniversary – it was more than a little disheartening.

I have no intention of quitting. However, May has been largely a wash. There haven’t been as many posts as I had planned, and social media has not gotten the attention it deserves.

Something clicked yesterday while I was putting some new flowers in a bare spot in one of my front flower beds. It’s an unusually dry area and the soil is poor. The best thing I could do is dig all the soil out and replace it with good soil and be more conscious of watering frequently.

I was at the garden store earlier in the day. There into my view came an Ice Plant. Perhaps I’ve seen the plant before, but the name was not familiar. Removing the plant tag, I read how the plant loves direct sun and dry, sandy soil. Instead of replacing the soil, perhaps there is a plant that will thrive in what I already have.

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 6

So, I purchased and planted the Ice Plant. In the future I will try to comment on its progress.

That silly little plant got me thinking about my blog. I do my best thinking in the yard and probably that’s why I like to be out there so much. Anyway, it dawned on me, April was a bad month, but that hardly means I should scrap anything.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of stopping this blog. But, I have been neglecting it most of the month.

So, That Didn’t Work

This will probably sound very egomaniacal, but please bear with me. I started this blog for me and to share me, Wolfe Butler, with the world. I felt like I had some things to say that maybe someone else would enjoy or benefit from reading.

Then I fell into a bit of a trap. I started reading other blogger’s success stories, big income reports and “expert’s advice.” Imperceptably, I became obsessed with SEO, catchy titles and appropriate blog lengths.

I’m not saying those things are not important. They certainly are, and especially if you hope to make a real income from your blog.

I didn’t start a blog to make an income. If that happens, wonderful, but it was never my purpose.

 

Review: Beginner Internet Marketing Series by Gundi Gabrielle

Sprinting in the Wrong Direction?

Without realizing it, I had started sprinting for the money goal line. The end result started to blind me to everything else. I lost much of my joy in the process.

I can’t help but think that is at least part of why my traffic dropped off.

The readers I had were likely not interested in which title was the most captivating or which post had the best keywords. They were coming around because they were interested in what I had to say. They were interested in me.

With blinders on, I lost some of me – what readers were responding to in the first place.

The View Is Different Back Here

One of the best things that happens when you step back is that your view changes. Up close, I’ve been obsessing about that barren dry spot in my flower garden. However, when I walk back to the road, that spot is barely noticeable because the rest of the garden is flourishing and full of color (and too many weeds at this point.)

It’s time I do the same thing with my blog. Obsessing over SEO and page ranking, etc., it’s not good for me. It’s not good for my readers.

So, I am making a commitment. Though I still plan to share my blogging journey, I hope to never become obsessed with stats again. The numbers may go up or forever stay flat. Neither will change my purpose.

 

7 Reasons to Never Give Up

 

Listening to the Fans

Three people recently really helped me with this realization, even though they probably don’t realize the impact they had on me.

One, the amazing Caron Allen, author of the Dottie Manderson Mysteries, has been a perpetual cheerleader both on my blog directly and on Twitter. I’m sure I owe many of my Twitter followers to Caron’s efforts to help promote me and my blog.

Two, the incredibly sweet Kristy Jo Volchko, author of Mall Hair Maladieswhich I reviewed recently, gave me the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed on her site. Even though that interview just posted, the experience did a lot to bring back my joy.

Three, someone I don’t know very well but hope to going forward, Drew J. T. Smith, author of Zodiac Awakening, made a touching comment on Twitter about something he had read recently in my current work-in-progress. He even said he had read everything in the tale so far.

Now, I didn’t ask these three people why they have helped me or why they are reading my work. I’m pretty confident, though, that if I did, none of them would say anything about SEO or page ranking. These wonderful people are reacting to me, Wolfe Butler, and the works I am most proud of sharing.

Lucy, Hold the Ball

As Charlie Brown did so many times, I am going to fall back and kick the ball. Like Charlie, I may fall flat on my back. Even so, I have found my way back to joy, and I think that will resonate with readers.

I am very open to suggestions. If there is something you really liked or really hated or even just thought was okay about my blog or writing, please share it with me. I want to connect to people. I want to connect with you.

All the blog ranking stuff will come. Or maybe it won’t. If Caron, Kristy Jo and Drew are the only people I ever touch, I am happy with that. My goal was to reach someone.

Mission accomplished!

Thank you for reading!

Until next time….

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Sometimes you'll power through, but other times you'll want to drop back and punt. How do you know which to do? Read this important life lesson learned.

4 Ways to Beat Procrastination – With Frogs

4 Ways to Beat Procrastination – With Frogs

Have you had your frog this morning? That probably sounds a little insane, unless, of course, you are someone who likes to have frogs for breakfast.

Hey, it’s possible. Maybe.

Let’s try another question.

Are you buried in to-dos today? If you are a blogger, writer, mom, worker, etc. most likely you are. There is ALWAYS something to be done. If you are like me, you have a post that is due today or tomorrow that you have not started. This post goes out Saturday morning and I am working on it at 6:20 PM Friday night.

It could be worse. At least it’s not midnight. Yet.

Procrastination is a curse that most of us contend with on a daily basis. Why do today what can be done tomorrow? So goes the procrastinator’s motto. The only problem with that philosophy is that now you have added additional stress to tomorrow.

Stress is never good. You know that.

So stop procrastinating! How? Learn this lesson about frogs.

Now you are thinking, “But what does procrastination have to do with frogs?”

Good question. Bear with me a moment while I give you some background for this post.

In the last two months, I have been spending copious amounts of time reading advice online and off about blogging and working as a freelancer. In one of the posts, and forgive me that for the moment I can’t remember which one, the writer referred to this quote by Mark Twain:

The quote has been stuck in my head ever since I read it. Mr. Twain, or Mr. Clemens as the case may be, was not really advocating for the eating of live frogs.

Well, at least I don’t think he was. Not having known him personally, I can’t say with certainty what he meant.

I have chosen to believe that the point he was trying to make was to stop procrastinating. If we would tackle the worst thing we need to do first thing in the morning, everything else would be downhill from there.

Read Lesson 1 in the I’ve Learned series

Are you guilty of procrastinating on the tasks you don’t want to do?

I know I am. In the corporate world, I often had three piles on my desk:

  1. Things that had to be done today
  2. Things that needed to be done soon and
  3. Things that were very low priority.

I often put things in pile 2 that I did not want to do. They would often stay there until I was coming up on a deadline before they made it to pile 1. I spent more time dreading the jobs I didn’t want to do than I did actually doing them.

One day I woke up and realized what I was doing to myself. It was crazy for me to cause extra stress by putting off tasks I didn’t want to do. I made a change that day.


I had not heard the quote from Mark Twain at the time. Perhaps if I had, I would have been moved to action sooner.

The change to my day was undeniable. My stress level dropped considerably. I was still having to deal with difficult people and mundane tasks, but by getting those things completed first thing, the rest of my day went much smoother and with much less dread of the remaining work on my desk.

Back to Mark Twain’s quote. He also supposedly said that if you have two frogs to eat, you should eat the bigger one first or something to that effect. I could not easily find this latter quote on the internet.

Again, the point is, at least in my mind, to do the worst things first. Get that big, ugly frog off your plate.

Nothing against frogs.

Here are four important lessons we can learn from this quote:

1.      Schedule Eating Your Frog

 

You have a million things that need to be done. Besides whatever you do for work, you have a home, family, and friends calling for your attention.

Add to that all the little distractions in your day. That, “Oh, my friend just posted new pictures on Facebook,” that turns into hours of browsing. You know what I mean.

Make yourself accountable. Schedule those tasks you don’t want to do just like you would schedule any other appointment or job. Go ahead and put it on your calendar. And be sure to schedule it early in the day so you can stop dreading it.

When that time comes, do the task. No grumbling or complaining. Do it and move on.

2.      Prepare Your Frog in Advance

 

You can take a lot of stress out of your morning by planning your day the night before. Taking just 10-15 minutes at the end of the day to plan the following day means that tomorrow you can wake up and start the day without having to think about what needs to be done. You have a plan and a schedule.

Many people do this already with lunches or planning outfits. I’m not a morning person so the fewer things I have to do in the morning the better. That means ironing any items the night before is a necessity. Fortunately, now that I am working from home, there’s a whole lot less ironing to be done.

3.      Don’t Eat Every Frog

 

There are dozens of tasks calling for our attention in a typical day. Lessen some the distractions by choosing to ignore some of them. Not every task deserves your attention. And not every decision is life altering.

Some people find some relief in this regard by making consistent decisions by the day of the week. For instance, many busy moms have a weekly schedule for meals: Monday is spaghetti, Friday is pizza, etc.

Mark Zuckerberg made an interesting comment about unnecessary decisions in this interview from 2014. He was asked why he was so often seen wearing the same looking t-shirt or hoodie. His response?

“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.” Zuckerberg felt, at least at the time, that deciding what to wear was a decision he didn’t need to spend mental energy on.

So he bought multiples of the same items. With only one color shirt in the drawer or hoodie on the rack and you don’t have to decide what to put on.

This may be an extreme example, but there are likely little decisions in your life that you can stop making. Take some time to think about it.

4.      Don’t Let Other Frogs Distract You

 

How many social media alerts have you gotten just while reading this post? As soon as you finish reading this, go turn off ALL of those notifications.

Stopping what you are doing every 5-10 minutes to read updates is only causing you more stress.

I’m serious. Go turn them off. You will thank me later.

This doesn’t mean you should give up social media entirely. It’s fun to see what others are doing and to interact with your friends and followers. But set limits. Just like you wouldn’t let a real frog hop everywhere in your house, set boundaries for social media.

Read Lesson 4 in the I’ve Learned series

 

For many people setting a timer helps. Start an egg timer or set an alarm on your phone and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to play, say 30-60 minutes. But, when that timer goes off, so should social media. Get back to work and ignore social media until your next scheduled play-break.

Takeaway

Rooting procrastination out of your life is an ongoing process. Don’t get discouraged if you find yourself frequently slipping backwards. No course to self-improvement is always forward motion.

What’s important is that you keep working on it.

Every time you tackle those difficult tasks first thing, give yourself the right to celebrate a little. Give yourself a pat on the back or a high-five because hopefully the worst part of your day is now over.

Remember that good feeling and remind yourself the next time you are tempted to procrastinate.

What tips do you have for overcoming procrastination? How did these tips help you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time…

What I Learned From the Cider House Rules

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This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission (or referral fee), at no extra cost for you

Lesson 7

The Cider House Rules

Tobey Maguire as Homer Wells from The Cider House Rules often comes to visit me in my mind. It has been nearly twenty years since the movie was released, and almost that long since I last saw it. Yet, it lives with me every day.

With its unexpected and often dark storyline, it reaffirmed in my mind a life lesson that I guess I had always known but did not fully resonate with me until I saw the movie. Even when every intention plans to go one direction, sometimes the journey itself chooses a different direction.

The movie, based on John Irving’s book of the same name, first published in 1985, tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch, obstetrician, founder and director of an orphanage is rural Maine. The story takes place in the first half of the twentieth century.

Homer Wells is Dr. Larch’s favorite orphan and is never adopted. Homer becomes the doctor’s apprentice and has big dreams of leaving the orphanage and having a life of his own.

Life, it seems, has other plans for him.

Repeatedly throughout the story, Homer makes plans to pursue his goals, but each time, through the people in his life, he is taught that he is already on the path that has chosen him.

My Journey

My life has not turned out anything like the life I had planned as a child and teenager. I used to tell everyone that I was going to be a writer, living in a small cabin in the mountains of Colorado.

Now, with 50 knocking loudly at the door, I find myself in rural Tennessee, never having been to Colorado, but finally living in my cabin in the woods. However, I am only just now really starting on my writer journey.

Plans change. A common quote on the internet is from John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

How true that is. My life is nowhere close to the life I imagined I would have, or even set out to have, as a young man. I live more than 1300 miles from where I had intended to live. Instead of doting on grandchildren, or even children of my own, I live alone in the quiet mountains of Tennessee. I have spent the last twenty years working in the financial services industry when I had hoped to be writing full-time the entire time.

Snowy trees

Different Isn’t Always Bad

I grew up in the Great White North, as many of us from there refer to the upper Midwest. One unexpected vacation to Tennessee, with its notably smaller mountains but with warm weather and southern hospitality, and I was sold.

Someday I will make it to Colorado, but it is often too cold there. This winter, I am finding Tennessee too cold, and I am daydreaming of living on the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. That is my next dream. I have not made it there permanently, but I do make a point of visiting often.

12 Awesome Motivational Quotes You Should Know

Looking back, had I made it to Colorado, and especially in my early twenties as I had intended to, I would have lived a very different life. That life may have been better or worse, I can’t say. What I do know is that I would have missed the journey and all the experiences of the past 20 years. Those experiences turned into precious memories that I would not want to be without.

Had I never come to Tennessee, I never would have met the love of my life. Meeting her and her family brought me so many unexpected and wonderful life experiences. They are the ones that first introduced me to the white sand beaches I so dearly love, and the ocean itself for that matter. Through them, I developed an intense love for the sea that will never end.

Those journeys and experiences shaped the person I am today, and that is a person I am proud to be.

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Loss is Part of the Journey

I lost my dear Laramie several years ago. It is a raw and aching pain that I know will never fully go away. Losing her, I felt like half of me died as well. I’m reminiscent to a stroke survivor that has to learn to live without the use of half of my body.

Sad as that is, I would not trade one second of this pain, because that would have mean that I never would have met Laramie. To share in her ever optimistic and deeply empathetic view of the world, for even a short time, is a gift that makes every bit of pain now worth it.

She truly made me a better person, and her influence lives on through those of us that loved her.

Regarding my career choices, yes, I am well behind where I wanted to be in my writing career. In November 2017 I self-published my debut novel, Getting Home. It is a book I could not have written without the experiences of the past twenty years.

Working in financial services for so many years introduced me to an abundance of colorful and unique individuals, many of whom I have stolen traits from to create the characters in my writing. Not to mention it allowed me the opportunity to have a little savings so that in this chapter of my life I can concentrate on writing more than working.

Notebook Coffee

What’s Your Journey?

My dear readers, I would love to hear your stories. What dreams did you have? What life chose you? Please leave your comments, or if you are further inclined, use these questions as a writing prompt on your own blog. Send me a link when your post is published, and I will post that link on this page.

To close today, I will refer to my favorite quote from The Bridges of Madison County, by Robert James Waller, “The old dreams were good dreams; they didn’t work out, but glad I had them.”

Until next time…

How To Be The Good You Want to See

Life Lesson

If we keep our minds open, everything that happens in our lives teaches us valuable life lessons. Great things, bad things, mediocre things – each has its own type of life lesson to teach.

I’ve Learned is a life lesson series born from little scraps of paper I have scribbled on and collected over the year. In each post, the main lesson is discussed with real life examples from my personal life.

The series kicks off here with Lesson 1. It’s an important life lesson to learn. If everyone tried to #BeTheGood, so many other painful lessons would not be needed.

Lesson 1: I’ve learned to be the good I want to see in the world. #BeTheGood

Lesson 1

Seeing The Wrong

As much as I try to be a good and positive person, I cannot help but admit that I have some character flaws. I love to rant, to give advice and to point out mistakes. Well, really the last one is more of an obsession/compulsion rather than something I love.

Ask anyone that knows me well, I tend to be too vocal about the wrongs I see around me. I’m the crazy guy sitting near you at a conference or seminar. When the speaker mispronounces a word, I’m the one that has to say it correctly outline.

You know me. You will likely turn and give me a disapproving. On the inside, though, you are applauding me internally because you also caught the mistake.

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Set The Example

Life has taught me that the best way to affect real change in the world around me is to set the example. Telling someone to do something can be effective. Showing them how to do it makes it more likely they will later do it themselves.

Many Christians will regard this as the Golden Rule, and surely it does match Jesus’ life lesson words found in the Bible at Matthew 7:12 –

“All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them.”

What would the world look like if everyone applied this one simple rule? I mean really applied. There would be no political parties tearing each other apart. Race would never be an issue. Mass shootings and terrorism would not exist.

I can’t help but think that if this one simple rule were followed, the world would be a very different place.

Look through the news headlines on any given day. Imagine how the stories would have changed if this was applied by all.

Hearing and Doing

We hear the Golden Rule repeated often. Sometimes we are sitting attentively on Sunday morning while the Bible is read. At other times, the message is conveyed in popular films like Pay It Forward or the Love Comes Softly series or shows like When Calls the Heart. (All three are excellent if you haven’t seen them already. I especially like When Calls the Heart.)

How, though, can you and I really apply this concept?

 

Solution

One way to apply this life lesson is to look for ways to help others.

Are you walking in or out of a store or business? If others are nearby, take a moment and hold the door for them.

Do you see the older woman loading her car with groceries? Offer to return her shopping cart for her.

Do you have a friend suffering a need but unwilling to ask for help? Give some help anyway.

Creating positive change in the world is about action and not intention. Yes, it is important to make sure we are not doing bad things or making the lives of other worse. Equally important, though, is to make sure we are actively seeking ways to make the world a better place.


 

Start Where You Are

Look around the area you are right now, whether at home or in public somewhere. Is there something on the floor or ground that needs to be picked up and thrown away? Is there someone nearby that is having a bad day and needs a smile or a hug? (It’s probably not a good idea to go around hugging strangers, but you get the general idea.)

At home, is there something that needs to be done, like taking out the garbage, washing the dishes or doing some laundry? Even if it is not something that it your responsibility, #BeTheGood and do something to help out.

 

 

One of the things that had made my dear wife the most happy was when she came home after a long day and found I had surprised her by making dinner or finishing the laundry. Those gifts meant more to her than any jewelry, flowers or chocolate ever did.

Of course, none of us can force others to change. Any attempt at change will only be temporary if it is not in the individual’s heart. So, I challenge each of you as I challenge myself, #BeTheGood you want to see in the world. Do something today to make someone’s life better or easier.

Wouldn’t it be great if #BeTheGood were the biggest trending hashtag of the year? And wouldn’t it be even better if that was because people were not only using the hashtag, but more importantly, were creating change in the world by the good they are doing? After you have done your good for today, come back and leave a comment of your experience to encourage the rest of us to also #BeTheGood.

Until next time…

Please share this post with others.

Everyone wants a better world, but so many are lost as to how to help. This life lesson article looks at a few simple things you can do to #BeTheGood you want to see in the world. #LifeLesson #Life